Icebreakers primarily bring goods to Northern Finland and Sweden in wintertime./Lehtikuva

Finland in the world press

A new collaborative project between Finland and Sweden made international news this week. The two countries are working together to develop a new kind of icebreaker—a ship designed specifically for navigating through ice. 

The new generation of icebreakers must fulfill the requirements of the shipping industry while also being more sustainable and eco-friendly in keeping with the latest standards.

Finland also drew focus for its unique pilot project featuring sniffer dogs that detect coronavirus at the airport, which researchers have said shows very promising initial results. Studies are currently comparing the accuracy rates of the sniffer dogs to that of results obtained from nasal PCR tests. 

Other countries have taken notice of how Finland has dealt with the current crisis, drawing attention to the country’s low rate of infections and the ease with which locals have adapted to

Helsinki also made the news this week for its use of data in the healthcare field. The city is presently developing a proactive healthcare tool aimed at preventing illness as a means of promoting better health for citizens and lessening the burden on the healthcare system. 

In other news, Finnish orchestral conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen is gaining international recognition for his comic opera Covid fan tutte, a musical parody depicting the everyday challenges of life after the coronavirus.  

Finland and Sweden join forces to create new icebreaker design

Finland and Sweden are collaborating on a project to develop a new generation of more cost-effective, eco-friendly icebreakers. The project has been assigned to Aker Arctic Technology, an independent company specialising in the development and design of icebreaker technology, and is valued between $3.5 and $4.5 million.

Both countries rely heavily on icebreakers to supply essential goods during winter. The current fleet is aging, with only five active ships at present. New icebreakers are essential to ensure that trade continues. The project is slated to be completed by the end of 2021.

Original article was published by the Maritime Executive on 2.11.2020 and can be found here.


Promising results for Finland’s COVID-19 sniffer dog experiment

Researchers have labelled the initial findings of Finland’s sniffer dog trial “extremely positive.” The dogs, named Kossi, ET and Miina, have been screening passengers at the Helsinki airport for COVID- 19 for a month. They have sniffed 2,200 samples from travellers and detected the virus in 0.6 per cent of cases.

Researchers have compared this to the results from the nasal PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) tests that are also being used for the same purpose and found no significant difference so far. The complete study will likely be published at the end of the year. 

Preliminary studies indicated that the dogs could detect the virus with almost 100 per cent accuracy, five days earlier than PCR tests. The trial has also received “exceptionally positive” feedback from travellers.  

Original article was published by CTV News on 28.11.2020 and can be found here.


The instant and pain-free testing method has proved to be a hit among travellers/Lehtikuva

Finland’s fight against coronavirus a success

While countries across Europe have been driven to implement new lockdown measures in the face of increasing COVID-19 cases, Finland seems to be reversing the trend. The country has managed to maintain infection rates at five times below the EU average level. 

Finland has one-tenth the number of deaths per capita of its neighbour Sweden, and its economic growth decreased by 6.4 per cent in the second quarter compared to the EU average of 14 per cent. Local attitudes towards restrictions are also the most positive in the region, with 23 per cent of Finns declaring the lockdown has improved their lives. 

Original article was published by France 24 on 4.11.2020 and can be found here.


Helsinki using data for preventive healthcare

The city of Helsinki is developing a “Health Benefit Analysis” tool which will help it move  towards proactive healthcare. Factors such as aging, increasing immigration and a growing population, coupled with the coronavirus crisis, have placed a strain on Helsinki’s healthcare system. 

The elderly and patients with multiple illnesses account for 80 per cent of Finland’s healthcare expenses. The city, as well as the country, is facing a shortage of skilled medical practitioners. The tool would identify gaps in care and recommend appropriate actions based on an analysis of patient data. The main barrier confronting developers is the restrictions associated with personal data and privacy laws. 

Original article was published by Cities Today on 3.11.2020 and can be found here


Finnish comic opera receives praise from international critics

A new production by the Finnish National Opera titled Covid fan tutte has been garnering rave reviews from critics. The title is a spoof on Così fan tutte, a well-known Italian language opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, which is the basis for the parody.

With an all-Finnish cast including renowned soprano Karita Mattila, the opera uses humour to reflect on the trials and tribulations of life during the global pandemic and features many staples of Finnish life, such as fashion brand Marimekko, while paying tribute to its source material. 

Covid fan tutte was conceived by orchestral conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen and is produced by the Finnish National Opera. It is currently being streamed online for free at Opera Vision.

 Original article was published by Los Angeles Times on 30.10.2020 and can be found here.


Tahira Sequeira — Helsinki Times